by B.B. Pelletier
Let’s go into the high-rent district to have a look at an American-designed German field target gun – the Walther Dominator!
Based on a 10-meter target rifle
The Dominator is based on Walther’s 300 Alu Tec target rifle. The 300 Alu was the first production air rifle to use air pressurized at 300 bar, which is 4,350 psi and change. It has a regulator to lower the firing pressure to a more managable figure (probably around 2,000 psi), so what you get with 300 bar is a lot more shots. If you can’t fill it that high, the rifle will still work on 200 bar, but there are fewer shots.
The Dominator presented some challenges to the German part of the team that designed it. They thought it would be easy to convert their valve to shoot faster with heavier pellets, but that part of it took them nearly one full year. In the end, they admitted they had underestimated the amount of air needed to push a .177 10.6-grain pellet to 900 f.p.s. They were so used to pushing 8.5-grain pellets to 575 f.p.s. that this new task took them to a whole new level of design!
They also discovered another lesson that other PCP airgun makers already knew – you have to have a longer barrel to get more velocity from a PCP! They wasted six months trying to get the standard 10-meter barrel to perform before they finally increased the barrel length. When they did, wonderful things began to happen! The gun settled down and started shooting very tight groups. Velocity was much more consistent, and the gun became more manageable.
The scope is new, too!
The U.S. part of the design team specified a long scope rail and a 10-40x variable-power scope. The Germans were surprised that anyone would want such power, but when the guns began selling here in the U.S., most of them went out the door with scopes. The Germans started shooting long-range groups with the new gun and were shocked to see 10 pellets going into 3/4″ groups – and sometimes smaller! – at 50 meters. That kind of performance really lit a fire under the Walther design team. Walther’s scope retails for $1,085, which is way out of profile for the features it offers. A similar scope made by the same factory with identical features sells for $600. But, if you buy a Dominator, you will be well-served by the Leapers 6-24×50, and you’ll save hundreds.
The rifle was tested with both 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers and H&N Baracudas, which are also sold as Beeman Kodiaks in the U.S. The Kodiak/Baracudas performed about 20 percent better than the Premiers in those tests.
The Germans learned quickly
Soon after the Dominator hit the streets, German shooters started popping up in world-class field target competition. There had been a few of them before then, but the Dominator brought them out in force. They still had to contend with the British champions, though, and everybody who shoots against them has to work hard just to keep up.
At least one other 10-meter target rifle maker now makes a field target version of their gun, conveniently standing on Walther’s shoulders to see how it’s done. Walther was first, though, and the Dominator remains at the pinnacle of field target rifles. If you’ve had thoughts about getting into the sport, this is a rifle that can take you to the world championships right out of the box!